Northamptonshire Military Tribunals 1916-1918 consists of over 12,000 indexed military tribunal case records.
Following the passage of Military Service Act on March 2nd 1916 conscription came into force for the first time in Britain. To begin with, the act only applied to single men and childless widowers aged 18-41. However, by May 1916 it had been extended to married men and In May 1918 the conscription age was raised to 51. If someone felt they should be exempt from military service, they could apply to the local tribunal, on the Urban and District Council level. If a person was not happy with the tribunal's decision (i.e. they would have to join the armed forces), they could make a final appeal to the Northamptonshire County Appeals Tribunal. No records have survived for the Local Tribunals of Northamptonshire, but for the County Appeals Northamptonshire Archives 11,200 case files have survived.
Each records consist of a transcript of the original case files which will provide information on the box number the case file is kept in at the Northamptonshire Archives. Transcripts will also reveal your ancestors appeal number, name, age, residence, occupation, reason for the appeal, outcome, date of the decision and additional information on the final decision. People using this index are welcome to visit Northamptonshire Archives to look through the case files themselves, or else can order copies of the documents to be made for them. For more details please see the Northamptonshire Archive website, available in the Useful Links and Resources section.
The original case files are packed with poignant stories. There are examples of mothers writing to the tribunal begging them not to take their last sons away to fight, of villages pleading for the last baker in the village not to be taken away, and even of sisters writing to the tribunals begging them to take their brothers away into the army because it will do them well. All these examples show the tensions the war created amongst communities and families, and the index created is a huge step forward in unlocking these personal stories.